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Working women trying to look after elderly parents

(44 Posts)
Beswitched Fri 14-Feb-20 20:02:42

There has, quite rightly, been a lot of legal recognition across recent decades of the fact that more and more young mothers are remaining in the workplace.
But on the other end of the scale this means more and more women in their fifties and early sixties are out working while also looking after aging parents - bringing them to hospital appointments, making sure they're not alone after medical treatments that have strong side effects, choosing nursing homes etc etc etc.

The days are long gone when many middle aged women were empty nesters with lots of time on their hands. Yet there is nothing in place for those who need a bit of flexibility to care for the need of their elderly parents.

I see so many colleagues having to use annual leave every time they need to meet with a social worker, bring a parent for hospital treatment, check out care homes and so on.

AIBU to think that middle aged workers trying to juggle work and caring for ill or incapacitated parents should have entitlement to some kind of special time allowance for certain circumstances.

My friend, who has worked full time for thirty eight years and has no children so has never taken any kind of maternity leave, now finds that while trying to help take care of her elderly father she is entitled to nothing and her annual leave is being eaten into.

She can't help feeling bitter and I don't blame her.

MissAdventure Fri 14-Feb-20 20:09:07

I would certainly support that idea.
My 3 days compassionate leave didn't even scratch the surface of the amount of time I really needed, for endless emergencies, things which I mistakenly thought were emergencies, alongside increasing care needs as time went on.

GrandmaMoira Fri 14-Feb-20 20:10:44

I think many of us have been in this position and it has got worse with the increase in pension age. I know single women in their 60s who have had to give up work and live on benefits to care for parents.
I was early 50s when I was working full time, spending most weekends visiting my father and often childminding. Employers do seem to allocate annual leave and Christmas leave prioritising those with young children and ignoring those with other family needs.

Blinko Fri 14-Feb-20 20:16:31

I was lucky. My employers had a system of compassionate leave if you needed it for these sort of family emergencies. As my parents lived 100 miles away, I really needed it when Mum was suffering her final illness.

The stress is unbelievable unless you've lived though it. Probably many of on this forum will have done.

MissAdventure Fri 14-Feb-20 20:22:05

Then there are the times when your parent is 'safely' in hospital, and they're going to do some tests.

Then you get a phone call next day to inform you your parent has been discharged and asking you to come and pick them up.

notanan2 Fri 14-Feb-20 20:26:39

The right to have flexible working considered for care responsibilies dont differ for parents Vs people who care for elderly relatives.

Im not saying its enough

Its hard for sandwich generations: caring for own children or grandchildren as well as older relatives as well as working full time.

Its still considered "womans work" and so is devalued

MissAdventure Fri 14-Feb-20 20:42:01

In my last full time job, compassionate leave rules varied depending on how well in with the boss you were.

Katyj Fri 14-Feb-20 20:44:45

Here here. I’ve lost count of the times when I’ve had to rush to my parents side,either through the night,so I’ve then been unable to go to work the next day, or had to leave work, then losing pay.All this happening whilst I had children at home and dgc to care for. Their should be more provision, I’m early 60’s now with a very elderly mum and have another 4years left to work, it’s exhausting. When I explain to the professionals I can’t come to this or that appointment, they look astounded and usually just say oh, never mind,we’ll send her another appointment which invariably never arrives,then have to spend ages chasing things up !
Sorry for the ramble, it just touches a nerve at the moment. As for your friend beswitched I agree with the unfairness of it all. Something needs to change.

Washerwoman Fri 14-Feb-20 20:44:55

I have recently retired with a few years to go before my delayed state pension kicks in.Luckily DH still works but I'm having to draw down some of my small private pension. I found trying to run a physically demanding business,help 2 very early mornings a week with grandchildren so DD can work, and care for my very frail mum in her 90s just too much.Plus another elderly relative who has DH and I on speed dial.Something had to give.I'm happier, less tired but signifcanly worse off money wise.There is a whole army of us out there.The sandwich generation. Truly.

Harris27 Fri 14-Feb-20 20:50:29

I was in a low paid job ( nursery nurse) still am. When both my mam and mil needed help for five years I struggled often using annual leave to stay away from work for hospital appointments and looking after both of them. I struggled using time after work for food shopping and caring often being out of the house for ten hours at a time. They are both gone and now look back wondering how on earth did Manage! I used to envy people who had weekends.

JuliaM Fri 14-Feb-20 20:54:09

With parents often living a lot longer and often well into their 90s, there also is often the problem of their children being too frail and disabled themselves to continue caring for a parent on a day to day basis, yet often society and the parent themselves expect them too.
I cared for my 91 yr old Dad right up to a few months ago, im disabled myself and heavily relient on a wheelchair for getting around, yet as previous posters have said, hospitals and departments often think that you can be there to attend appointments or meetings without even considering the fact that you are unable to physically get there yourself, never mind push someone else in a wheelchair. I finally gave up over Christmas and reluctantly agreed to find a care home place for Dad and signed the appropiate paperwork for his admission. Hes not happy about it, but after suffering several falls at home, it was apparent that neither my husband or I could lift him and get him back onto his feet, and it was a 5 hour wait for an Ambulance when we called them, during which time he became incontinent all over the hall carpet of his home. My Daughter says l have made the best decision for all concerned, but feel teribly guilty for going against Dads wishes, and putting him in a Care home.

craftergran Fri 14-Feb-20 20:56:47

Perhaps if they hadn't increased the pension age it may have helped some families.

Wouldn't have helped my family as my mother's final illness was when I was 50, but may help some.

Beswitched Fri 14-Feb-20 20:59:11

Glad others agree. There just seems to he an attitude that those of us nearing pension age are not worth wooing and bothering about so no effort is made to introduce workplace legislation that caters for our needs.

Older workers with aging and ill parents need flexibility and understanding not an uncaring ' just use your holidays ' approach.

Katyj Fri 14-Feb-20 21:08:38

Julia ,don’t feel guilty for one minute, you did amazingly well with your dad, it is very hard mentally and physically, you could have ended up hurting yourself,and I’m sure your dad wouldn’t have wanted that. At least he’s safe now, warm and comfortable. You did your best flowers

Ellianne Fri 14-Feb-20 22:08:34

Shouldn't there just be a statutory number of days for compassionate leave at any point in our working lives? I was in my early 20s when my mum was in her final illness. I'd just finished university, was carving out a career and getting married, but no time off was given to accompany my mum to appointments or treatments. I remember feeling very guilty that I used the work phone every day to check up on her. There needs to be flexibility right across the board.

MissAdventure Fri 14-Feb-20 22:11:19

You also then have the issue as to what relatives this leave would include.
An aunt that they lived with?
A neighbour who was like a mum to them?

GrannyLaine Fri 14-Feb-20 22:35:23

When my MIL was terminally ill with ovarian cancer, my manager in the NHS was so supportive and allowed me to juggle shifts so that between us, my SIL and I nursed her at home until she died. They also made sure I had sufficient leave after her death to do my job well when I returned. Some years later, when my Dad was dying, they created every type of leave possible to allow me to look after him & my Mum at home. It made all the difference and I shall be forever grateful to those people. The NHS isn't renowned for looking after its own, but I can't praise them highly enough.

gillybob Fri 14-Feb-20 23:25:44

I think Craftergran hits the nail on the head here. I have always said that women needed to retire at 60 as it is usually women who are trying to be everything to everyone in the family. Looking after grandchildren and elderly parents too .

I am 58 (going on 85) . I looks after my 4 grandchildren, my sick husband and my elderly father too. I work in a very stressful job and cannot retire for another 9 + years (that’s if I make it) .

notanan2 Sat 15-Feb-20 00:14:45

There just seems to he an attitude that those of us nearing pension age are not worth wooing and bothering about

I agree. With staff nearing retirement there can be an attitude of not bothering to retain. Or worst, pushing them to go earlier. Ive seen this happen with injured colleagues not getting redistributed to lighter duties while they recover, and being forced to decide to leave earlier than planned instead

MissAdventure Sat 15-Feb-20 00:59:00

I think things have taken a downward turn in terms of supporting employees.
I'm sure everywhere has all the relevant paperwork in place, but this type of situation is often overlooked, unless people have been in it themselves.

How else could you expect someone to know that sometimes, trying to get a repeat prescription takes many, many man hours.

Beswitched Sat 15-Feb-20 08:28:23

I think that can be one of the problems with young fast tracked managers - they just haven't been in that situation themselves and lack the insight that an older manager might have.

So many workplaces nowadays bend over backwards to prove their WOKE credentials but ignore the very obvious ways in which they could create fairer and more compassionate workplaces.

Hetty58 Sat 15-Feb-20 08:34:38

The elderly are just not valued in our society. Health and social care services are cut to the bone. There's a huge reliance on family members taking up the slack.

With the increase in pension age, family are usually still working when the need to care arises (and geriatric themselves).

Things are rapidly going to reach crisis point. What I really fail to understand is why the elderly continue to vote for this.

sodapop Sat 15-Feb-20 09:01:31

I agree Hetty58 and with mothers opting to have children later there is often a crisis between child care and elder care. No Government has wanted to take on the massive challenges of social care and so the problems escalate.
We hear of so many families run ragged trying to care for everyone and that's apart from all the financial implications.

travelsafar Sat 15-Feb-20 09:17:24

I was lucky when my mother was dying i was given compassionate leave by my company when i was working. Sadly it seems to be a sign of the times that these poor ladies are not being supported with their family needs. Many women work, run the home, take care of the grand kids and their elderly parents. They are doing a fantastic job and so many people rely on them, companies should be made to support them when they are really struggling with all the care duties they have.

gillybob Sat 15-Feb-20 09:47:15

I run a small business and to be perfectly honest there is no way we could keep up with all the compassionate leave people would like in an ideal world, without some kind of government support.

Did you know that small businesses are no longer able to claim back statutory sick pay? And have to find it from their own resources . Imagine if everyone in an SME took all the various “leaves” the country would ground to a halt.